Dogs become part of families quickly, with their warmth, care, and playfulness. But as they grow from the small, cute puppy that a family excitedly brings home from the pound or the pet store to a full grown dog, protectiveness becomes a part of their duty as a family member. In social situations or a threat at home, either perceived or real, can result in an attack from even the calmest of dogs.
So what do you do if your dog bites someone?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the first thing to do is to restrain your dog and then confine them to a safe space. This will calm the dog, thus alleviating the tension, and ensures all attention can be paid to the person bitten. As you begin treatment, remember to look the person bitten in the eye and assure them they are being helped. Being attacked by an animal, especially one that may not be familiar, can be a traumatic experience. Remind the victim to breathe and ask them questions to keep them in the moment.
As your doing this the victim needs to be evaluated. How deep is the wound? Are there multiple puncture marks? Take pictures if at all possible, and begin treatment. Elevate the area bitten to decrease blood flow. If necessary create a tourniquet with either a bandana or belt. Carefully clean the wound with soap and water. A salve or ointment can be applied to reduce the risk of infection at this time, and then use the appropriate bandage size to protect the area.
If the injury is deemed serious enough, the victim should see a doctor as soon as possible for further treatment. It could be something as simple as a round of antibiotics or a rabies shot, or it could be as involved as surgery. Whether medical intervention is necessary or not, though, contact your dog’s vet for its medical records. Knowing if your dog is up-to-date on its shots and also knowing its general medical history can provide a better understanding of what treatments are needed, as well as peace of mind for all involved.
Be sure to make yourself available to the person bitten. If they are not a friend or family member, give them your name, address, and phone number. If necessary and/or available, exchange insurance information as well. If they are someone close to you, reiterate that you are there for them. Even if they are just in need of emotional support during the aftermath of the initial attack, you should foster a mutual trust between the parties involved that the situation will be resolved in as timely and as pleasant as possible manner.
Once the injury is taken care of, make sure you are taken care of as well. There are many resources for people whose pets have had run-ins with others. Contact your vet to see what could prevent this type of situation in the future. Was your dog provoked? Does it need training from an expert? Or is it simply a case of needing more socialization?
A vet can help narrow down what factors might have caused the attack and how to better deal with aggressive behavior. Also, you should contact a dog bite lawyer. Personal injury lawyers can help decipher responsibility of medical bills and also navigate insurance. In certain cases, it can help to have a professional to keep the situation from escalating beyond what’s necessary. Dog attacks are scary for all involved; having someone to help mediate can help to streamline the process of healing.